Further COVID-19 testing for care home staff is beginning this week to help identify infectious individuals sooner and manage outbreaks more effectively, the Health Minister has announced.
The enhanced testing programme will involve the twice weekly testing of asymptomatic care home staff using rapid lateral flow test devices.
This is in addition to the PCR tests, which are sent to a laboratory, currently undertaken by care home staff as part of a package of measures for preventing transmission of COVID-19 in care homes and protecting residents and staff which has been operating since June 2020.
A £3 million funding package has been agreed to support additional testing in care homes.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said:
“The protection of the most vulnerable people in our communities has been a priority during the COVID-19 virus outbreak.
“Care home staff, local authorities and health protection teams continue to work tirelessly to prevent the introduction and onward transmission of COVID-19 in our care homes.
“While we are making good progress with the roll-out of our vaccination programme, testing remains pivotal in our response to the pandemic to help identify infectious individuals within care homes sooner and manage outbreaks more effectively.”
Local health protection teams will also be able to consider the introduction of daily testing for a period of 10 days in care homes where there is an outbreak. This enhanced testing is in line with the ‘test to safeguard’ priority described in the refreshed Welsh Government Testing Strategy.
Lateral flow tests produce results within 20 to 30 minutes allowing for positive individuals to be identified and isolated much more quickly than through the current testing process.